Monday, 9 January 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

 

For my birthday I received the new Anna Olson Back to Baking book - please note that on page 281 is a picture of her cupcake in one of the beautiful Kalasform liners that I sent her.  I was hoping to get a signed copy, that would have been cool since I sent her almost $100.00 worth of liners - or even a mention... oh well we all live and learn.  I am still really happy to see the picture there and just knowing that is because I sent it to her.  So I had these beautiful lemons and had all kinds of ideas posted to try but my husband has been sick and really want a nice lemon meringue pie!  So I remembered seeing one in the book and thought - ok here it goes I will try her recipe!  I don't think I need to write out the pastry as I feel everyone has a good pie crust recipe or can find one.  One thing I will note here is that when the pie is baked and comes out of the oven it is suggested to brush it with an egg white while it is hot to seal it.  The filling and wonderful Italian meringue was wonderful and my meringue did not weep at all!!

So this is the recipe from Anna's book for the filling and meringue:
FILLING
1 3/4 cup (435ml) water
1 1/4  (310ml) sugar
1 Tbsp (15ml) finely grated lemon zest
6 1/2 Tbsp (97.5) cornstarch
2/3 cup (160ml) fresh lemon juice
5 egg yolks (keep the whites for your meringue)
2 Tbsp (30ml) unsalted butter

Bring the water and 1 cup (250ml) of the sugar, and the lemon zest up to a full simmer in a saucepan.  In a bowl whisk the remaining 1/4 cup (60ml) of the sugar with the cornstarch, then whisk in the lemon juice and egg yolks.  Pour the boiling water over the lemon mixture, then pour the entire liquid mixture back into the post and whisk over medium heat until it thickens and just begins to bubble, about 4 minutes.  Put the butter in a large bowl, and strain the mixture into the bowl and stir until the butter melts.  Place a piece of plastic wrap over the filling and let it cool to room temperature.  Then scrape the filling into the pie shell and chill just to set, about 2 hours. (Note: if you find a little bit of condensation dab it with a paper towel - it will help keep the moisture off the crust).

Take the pie out of the fridge to warm it up a little about 30 minutes before putting the meringue on it and putting it in the oven.

For the ITALIAN MERINGUE:

5 egg whites at room temperature
1 cup (250ml) sugar
1 tsp (5ml) cream of tartar
1/4 cup (60ml) water

Whip the egg white with 1/4 cup (60ml) of the sugar and the cream of tartar until the mixture holds a medium peak.
Place the remaining 3/4 cup (185 ml) of sugar plus the 1/4 cup (60ml) of water into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  WITHOUT stirring, boil the sugar occasionally brushing the sides of the pot with water if needed, until it reaches 239 degrees F (115 C) this takes about 3 minutes - so don't leave it alone!
Carefully pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl of whipped egg whites while whipping at medium - high speed.  (do not pour the hot liquid directly onto the beater(s)  whip the meringue at high speed until cooled - this takes again about 3 minutes.  (note: I poured the hot sugar liquid into a measuring cup so it was easy to pour into my kitchen aid mixer bowl)

Scrape out the meringue and spread onto your filled pie and spread it around - I also lift it up from the flat part to make little peaks.  Place pie onto a baking sheet and put in a 375F (190C) oven for maybe 4 minutes - watch it carefully - until it is just lightly browned. 
Let it cool to room temperature before chilling.  Store in fridge for up to 2 days.

So the one thing I was impressed with was the meringue!  Very light and fluffy and no weeping, not overly sweet either.  It reminded me of making buttercream icing and adding the hot liquid carefully into the egg whites - but that's another recipe.


My husband was very impressed with it and it did make him feel a little better :) It is like mile high pie - at first I thought wow that is a lot of meringue - but it really was very light.  I hope you give this a try and let me know how you like it.

Enjoy!

Gwen





Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Perfect Perfection

PERFECT JUST PERFECT!
While I was out for my walk today I thought about all the posts I am seeing on Facebook, TV shows, newspapers etc.  about diets, home styling, weddings, recipes etc.  How we need to do this, use this, don't eat this, eat that, get this hair cut, use this colour and while it is all with good intentions to let us think about how we do things and to give us ideas - I wonder what that message can do to people.  If having someone "unlike" your business page or "unfriend" you, misread or misunderstand a comment -leaves you feeling sad or question what you are doing -  maybe we need to stop looking to be perfect for everyone and just be ourselves.  Are lives are filled with the use of the word "perfect"  perfect meaning what?  Perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect home, perfect job, perfect dog, perfect diet, perfect life, perfect hair, perfect make-up, perfect skin and in fact I was even told when I was diagnosed with cancer that "well, if you are going to get leukaemia - CML is the perfect one to get!"  REALLY???  don't get me wrong - I understand what he was trying to say but really?  I even had a relative tell me that "maybe having cancer will help you loose weight" - REALLY??

Maybe having a few years of experience, a life altering diagnosis and always learning that nothing truly is "perfect" helps me live my life my way.  (breaking into song "I did it my way" - but it took me over 50 years ... oh no that's not in the song)
I was at a meeting a few months ago and there were two different speakers, one on fitness and one on make-up and first impressions.  Well I learned (not that I didn't already know this) but my body isn't perfect!  I was shocked to have this news made public - I had been trying to hide it for years!  Then I was informed that going out in public with no make-up is just as bad as going out with too much make-up!  ( we have all seen the little old ladies with way too much rouge and lipstick or the young girls looking like 25 when they are 14!)  Yes it brought me down a bit to think that someone meeting me for the first time can make a judgement on me and my business by their "first impression" in 10 seconds of seeing me - just wait till I open my mouth - I think I would be in real trouble!  My impression (note I said impression - not judgement) of someone is based on how they made me feel - I remember when I was out at Tim Hortons with my daughter a few years ago and it was miserable outside.  There was an older homeless lady looking through the garbage cans there, her hands, clothes and hair were dirty - but there was something in her eyes when she looked at us beyond the sadness there was something.  My daughter and I got our coffee and bagel and as we went back out saw she was still looking through the garbage - we both automatically went back in and bought a coffee and a sandwich to give to her.  We took it out and said "here - enjoy this it's fresh" and she looked at us with eyes of hope and said "bless you - it's been a rough day today for me today".  I don't know what a rough day for her meant but I am sure it wasn't anything I would want to live through. 

So when people "judge" me because:
  • my body isn't "perfect" - even though I walk and hike everyday and it went through a lot and survived so I will keep it and be happy with it.
  • my skin isn't great - the transplant has left me with not so nice skin and I can't wear make-up
  • my marriage isn't "perfect"  - we've been married 32 years this year andwe have gone through a lot - we are still together and love each other
  • my hair isn't "perfect"  - because it never came back the same after chemo
  • my house is not "perfect"  - but it suits us just fine
  • my kids aren't "perfect" -  I love them for who they are and I hope they feel the same way
  • my dog isn't "perfect" -  and I love her too - only with a little less barking :)
  • my business isn't "perfect" - I started this on my own after surviving a bone marrow transplant and I am doing my  best
  • my cooking and baking aren't "perfect" - everyone always enjoys what I make and no one has died from it yet - or got sick :)
So as you can see - I'm not PERFECT - but  I am HAPPY.  Don't try to live your life to perfection - because while you are trying to do everything perfectly LIFE is passing you by and you may find yourself one day wondering why you wasted so much time trying to make it perfect.  Live - Laugh - Smile - Cry it's all ok  - it's all part of life.

Have a sweet wonderful day where ever you are.
Gwen

Just in case you need to know what Perfect and Perfection are according to the dictionary :)



per·fect

[adj., n. pur-fikt; v. per-fekt]
adjective
1.conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere; a perfect gentleman.
2.
excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code. The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.
3.
exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose: a perfect actor to play Mr. Micawber; a perfect saw for cutting out keyholes.
4.
entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple; the perfect crime.
5.
accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy.

per·fec·tion

[per-fek-shuhn] Show IPA
noun
1.
the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.
2.
the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art.
3.
a perfect embodiment or example of something.
4.
a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
5.
the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So it started off with seeing a post from The Smart Cookie Cook about these cookies - I just thought another chocolate chip cookies but her pictures and the idea of such a big cookie and the way you split the cookie and then put it together - well I don't know what the difference is but they sure turned out yummy!!  The only problem is my will power is wavering and it's only January 2nd and I just shouldn't have made these wonderful cookies --- at least it doesn't make a huge batch - just a huge cookie!

Take a look at the link of the way to make the cookies as I didn't really do a tutorial.  I had some really good dark chocolate that I made into the chunks - using my fancy dancy chocolate pick thingy

Here is the dough with the chocolate and the chocolate chips in it - very smooth and nice looking
I have never put my chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge but I did what she wrote - except I must say I used 1/2 of the brown sugar and substituted splenda brown sugar.  That was the only different thing I did - and it took the 15 minutes in my oven.
See they are big  - only 6 cookies on the tray!
See that's my big oven mitt on the left -

Fresh out of the oven - I have to admit I put one in the freezer to cool it off quickly so I could sample it for the purpose of course of writing this post! :)
I hope you head over to The Smart Cookie Cook for the recipe and instructions - yes there are instructions that are different from the everyday chocolate chip cookie recipe!

Enjoy - in moderation of course :)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2011 - 2012 A year in review

It's been a year and it went by so fast!  I remember my Mom (who turns 90 in February!) telling me that as she got older the years start going by faster, - I know what she means know!  The business is growing and I have learnt a lot of things - especially about advertising and where to put my money.  There were a few flops and a some good investments.  The Canadian Baking and Sweets Show in Toronto was a good one and a special thanks to Kimber Cakeware and Dressed Up Party Cups for going in with me on that venture.  I invested in a logo - a very special thanks to my daughter Janine who drew it and to Jessica of VI Stamp for putting it together for me!  We brought lots of new items in and have almost out grown our space, met lots of great customers, some awesome women in business here in Victoria.  Nichole, Tina, Carrol, Kristina, Lesley, Jenny and of course Deb from the Westshore Women's Business Network and lots more awesome women in that group! 

On a personal note my husband and I bit the bullet and learn to ride a motorcycle - the timing wasn't great since winter is upon us but hopefully I will get my own bike and start riding!  I was scared to death - and I mean scared - I even wiped out pretty good but got back on with a cracked rib and completed the course and test.  Very proud of myself. ( now if I could only over come my fear of doctor's and dentists!)  My beautiful daughter got engaged to the most wonderful man she has ever met... sometimes you see two people together and just know they are right for each other.  They compliment each others personalities, are best friends and most importantly love and respect each other.  


As I pack up the Christmas items I reflect on the people that are connect to the ornaments - some beautiful old ones from my Mom and Dad and some that my Mom made or bought from our time in Tokyo, Japan. I found a little bear that my son made in play school almost 20 years ago.  A little black dog in memory of Tuffy who we lost Dec 23rd 4 years ago - which was the day that our little Libby was born so it was meant to be. I have  quite a collection of hand painted ones from my friend too.  I think of them as I gently tuck them away for another year until hopefully next year I will be able to open them again and enjoy the moments remembering those I hold dear to me.  I miss having my Dad here especially during Christmas - he so enjoyed the season, I can still him singing and playing Christmas songs on the organ.  My hope for this year is continued good health and lots of sweet fun!  The past is gone, the future is not here yet - so all we have is this moment, enjoy it!

Gwen
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